Business leaders and City officials looking for “solutions to homelessness” at Skid Row have thrown everything but the kitchen sink at the problem but have come up short, to say the least. Their efforts have been described as “repetitive and ineffective hot air,” “all-words and no substance-type lofty goals,” “unrealistic rhetoric,” “the ole wait and see, but trust me now typical political fluff” or a combination of any of the above.
The frustration has been mounting up higher than any of the Measure HHH new homeless development projects.
Many in the Downtown business sector say they want a cleaned-up Skid Row. Many in the homeless community say they want new and/or upgraded housing so they can get off the streets and live in apartments like most other Angelenos who also struggle to survive. Many of the politicians say they want affordable housing for all who need it. Well if everyone is saying the same thing and if everyone wants the same results, then what’s the issue?
Angelenos have taxed themselves billions of dollars to create new funding pots to solve homelessness. Those who understand development know that it takes years to complete brand-new buildings from the ground up. Homeless individuals and families are piling up on sidewalks and communities across the City. The official 2018 Homeless Count numbers will be released next month with high-expectations of yet another increase…meaning there’s no end to homelessness in sight.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, a new project called The North Sea has emerged in a northern section of Skid Row. A handful of property owners have painted all their buildings alike and since most of them were at some point seafood factories, it’s no surprise that ocean blue is the predominant color. These buildings have been neglected for decades, so no one complained when the sea of blue buildings emerged. In Skid Row, this was at first simply seen as a community beautification project; community members approved and appreciated the efforts but were totally unaware that more was to come.
Now, capital improvements in the form of “landscaping additions” have raised eyebrows in Skid Row. While it’s common knowledge that property owners control up to three feet of sidewalk from their buildings, The North Sea is taking upwards of 5-10 feet of sidewalk, allowing only for ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance and ZERO space for homeless tents and/or encampments.
While installation of temporary construction fencing forced homeless people away from their normal homes on sidewalks in the affected area, no outreach was done. Most thought the fencing was for the paint job and would be removed once it was completed. This would enable tents and encampments to return, like when Operation Healthy Streets provides sidewalk cleaning.
But months after the paint jobs were complete, the temporary fencing remained; many believed this was an effort to keep homeless people from returning. Now, we see The North Sea is nothing more than a Trojan Horse, designed to completely rid the sidewalks in Skid Row of homeless citizens.
Already, The North Sea is expanding beyond what was initially proposed, presumably because more property owners are seeing the immediate results and are joining the effort.